Indicators of Climate Change in California

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OEHHA Climate Change Indicators of California 2013 header image

OEHHA is responsible for compiling indicators as lead agency for the Environmental Protection Indicators for California (EPIC) Project. The indicators draw upon data collection, monitoring and studies by state and federal agencies, universities and research institutions.  The current focus is on indicators of climate change in California. 

2013 Report: Indicators of Climate Change in California

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has released "Indicators of Climate Change in California," a 2013 report presenting 36 indicators tracking trends in atmospheric gases that influence climate, changes in the state's climate, and the impacts of climate change on California's environment and people. This report is an update to a 2009 report.

Generally, the indicators show that changes occurring in California are largely consistent with those observed globally.

The indicators can help the state track, assess, and report on the climate change issues it is working to address and facilitate communication of complex information to a broad audience in a relatively simple, systematic manner. By compiling indicators representing the many aspects of climate change in a single document, this report can serve as a valuable resource for decision-makers, scientists, educators, and other interested individuals. Among the indicators included are greenhouse gas emissions, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, ambient air temperatures, winter chill, extreme heat events, spring snowmelt runoff, forest vegetation patterns, and small mammal habitat range shifts. Taken collectively, the indicators can help the research community in examining the interrelationships between and among climate and other physical and biological elements of the environment, and in identifying gaps in information. Finally, the indicators – particularly those that reveal evidence of the already discernable impacts of climate change – can highlight priority areas for state mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Environmental Justice Impacts of Climate Change

Evidence is emerging that impacts of climate change on human health and well-being are already occurring.  Some of these impacts may disproportionately affect those who are socially or economically disadvantaged, and hence represent environmental justice concerns.  These concerns were highlighted in the Indicators of Climate Change in California: Environmental Justice Impacts Report.

2017 Update:  Indicators of Climate Change in California

On June 16 and 17, 2015, OEHHA convened a workshop to improve upon and explore new metrics for tracking climate change and its impacts on California’s water resources, oceans, fish and wildlife, forests, agriculture, and the health and well-being of the state’s residents.  OEHHA will use information from the workshop to help develop its next climate change indicators report, scheduled for release in 2017.